A Brush with Death in Upstate New York

In the middle of the forest was a line of tents, Vendors Row at an outdoor, clothing optional “folklore festival.” It was the tail-end of the week-long event so most of the people had left already. Some unsavory types (ie, perpetual vagrants, addicts on the fringes of society) remained, but so did I. I was being held against my will by a rival gang of magicians and had no way to physically escape as my car was three states over and this festival was held about a couple hours away from the nearest electrical outlet, but that is a story for another time. In short, I was being held here because this magical crew needed a white mage and I was the closest thing they could get to. Their operation needed muscle and although they thought they had me totally glamoured, they were merely exploiting me as I waded through an emotional morass.

Making the rounds each day through the woods I would stop at Vendors Row on the way out to grab something to eat (my own meal a day, they promised they would pay me, but they didn’t), and talk to the Bees Guy. He was a vendor who sold honey and other bee products. He had a tie-dyed shirt that he had worn for about a week straight and he would talk about the wild drugs he had done and strange things he had seen. He was an old goat and enjoyed my presence. He would talk with me whenever I stopped by.

One day while making the rounds, I came across the tent. He was about to eat his lunch and started talking to me instead. Within a minute or so he was out, cold, he had closed his eyes, then fallen asleep, then drooled on himself, then was on the ground. His breathing became shallow. It was only then that I noticed that while one hand was holding the plate of food he was going to eat, the other one was holding an insulin syringe.

The Order of the Hive

And below the chair he sat on was a metal box with about $12k in cash. I stayed with Mr. Bees as I struggled to figure out what to do. He was out cold — low blood sugar — and surrounded by honey. As I started to feed him some, my captors showed up. They told me to stop, to take his money first, or at least a significant fee. Or just let him die and take it all.

I pulled the Sig P226 out of the holster and drew it on their leader — a crusty old man who looked just like Mr. Bees, just more evil. They momentarily backed off. But this was the first time they discovered I was armed. They had stolen almost everything else off of me except my gun and my dignity at this point, including the old life I had.

The irony of a diabetic in a tent literally full of sugar passing out was not lost on me. He was really grateful when he made it. The amount of cash and his lackadaisical attitude about it amused me. It was an amount you’d only see in videos for mainstream rappers. I could sense the anger from my captors — if a grand came up missing, he wouldn’t have noticed it and he wouldn’t have come asking them either. I paid for it later anyways. But, at the end of my days, I will know I did the right thing by resuscitating him and walking off unthanked.

But I made sure Mr. Bees made it. Besides him, my captors, and me, there were at most 4-5 other people in a 2-mile area. Because I didn’t help them rob Mr. Bees, I was severely punished and wasn’t fed anything for another week. I have Mr. Bees’ business card somewhere in my things. I hope that one day before he dies for real I get in touch with him, but they say the best deeds are done without want of recognition. And perhaps I’ll forever be known as that ghost in the woods.